Saturday, June 30, 2012


Rooftops by susanvg
Rooftops, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
A side benefit of going to the baroque festival is that I get to stroll around Old Montreal. The variety of architecture is amazing with buildings dating from 1700 to the present. This is the top of the Hôtel de Ville.


This is the Ernest-Cormier building - now the Court of Appeals, once the Conservatory. One of the concerts took place in the lobby.

Brandenburg in the Cafe

Brandenburg in the Cafe by susanvg
Brandenburg in the Cafe, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Late evenings in the Café A Propos during the Baroque Festival are full of music lovers and musicians. Young musicians are joined by seasoned professionals to sightread through music, in this case one of the Brandenburg Concertos. They play with obvious joy (and fun).

The harpsichord part was played by two fine musicians - with the right hand played by one and the left hand played by the other (with his right hand). Quite a challenge - especially in the long harpsichord solo, but admirably executed. The festival blurs the line between audience and performer, between up and coming musicians and those who have been on the scene a long time. We are all there because of our passion for this music.


Some Telemann - a concerto for viola da gamba and recorder. The early music scene is healthy in Montreal, with all these young artists taking their place. And starting tomorrow, I have the privilege of spending a week up at CAMMAC (programme listing for Week Two) - a week of early music with teachers who have been performing in this festival. Oh - we are spoiled here in Montreal!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Horse Ballet

Horse Ballet by susanvg
Horse Ballet, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Imagine going back to the time of Louis XIII at Versailles. That's what happened at the Montreal Baroque Festival. Playing music by Lully, composed in 1686, the musicians accompanied dancers of both the human and equestrian variety. Sumptuous costumes which were from Versailles added to the spectacle.

The Horse Ballet begins

Natural trumpets announced the beginning. These instruments have a loud enough sound to carry outdoors.

Dancers and Horse

Horses were accompanied by human dancers. I was baking in the hot sun. I cannot imagine how the dancers felt in their heavy costumes, dancing on hot pavement.

Horse Ballet

The dancing was enchanting.

Rider and Horse

This rider was absolutely amazing, riding bareback without reins. Her horse did her every bidding, prancing, lifting its feet and then slowly lying down and nuzzling her. Then it got up and continued its graceful dance.

It was well worth the baking in the sun.

More photos

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Susie leads the parade

Susie by susanvg
Susie, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Each year at the Baroque Festival there is a parade of musicians - professionals and amateurs. Music is provided by Matthias Maute and everyone brings something to play, whether pots and pans or actual instruments. Susie Napper is the incredible director of the festival. Each year she dreams up a creative theme with incredible programming to go with it. This year with the theme of apocalypse, concerts reflected both the disastrous possibilities and the playful ones (imagine the apocalyptic happening when the princess kissed the frog).

Parade Leader

This year the parade was led by this harlequin. Half way through we were met by two horses in costumes from Versailles. They would soon be performing in a horse ballet (but more on that later).

The Horses Meet Us

And here are a few more shots from the parade (I took time out of playing to snap these photos).


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Natural Trumpets

Natural Trumpets by susanvg
Natural Trumpets, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: June 22, 2012
It is impossible to describe all the concerts in the Montreal Baroque Festival. Thursday's opening gala was really four concerts in one with music by SMAM, Les Boréades, Ensemble Masques and Ensemble Proemio. The latter, I had never heard before. They performed pieces from a codex from Peru which dates from the mid 1700s. Beautiful music! You can learn a bit about the man who collected the music here.

On Friday we heard Les Voix Humaines with natural trumpet players Jean-François Madeuf and Graham Nicholson with music from Kremsier in what is now the Czech Republic. Natural trumpets are trumpets that would have been played in baroque times. They have no keys. Playing different notes depends on breath pressure. The stance you see these players taking can also be seen in paintings, and here on the cover of a method book for learning to play the instrument. Baroque trumpets have a warmer, mellower sound than their modern counterparts. Another splendid concert!

If you want to hear a natural trumpet - here is a sample from YouTube  featuring Jean-François Madeuf.

Milk Cartons

Milk Cartons by susanvg
Milk Cartons, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
 Photos: June 21, 2012

The Darling Foundry, once an industrial space is now an industrial sized visual arts space. It offers work space for artists as well as a program for artists in residence - studios which provide not only work space, but also some living spaces.


I was there for the opening concert of the Montreal Baroque Festival - an amazing concert filled long weekend. More to come about that!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Horses in the City

Horses in the City by susanvg
Horses in the City, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I really wanted to find out who the artist is who created these horses. I wanted to have a closer look. BUT... I was not allowed to approach. They are located next to the circular driveway which goes to the entrance to the National Art Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Pedestrians have to stay on the sidewalk on the other side of the driveway.


So if there is a plaque naming the artist, I could not even try to find it. I did like these prancing equines, but could only get closer with the zoom on my camera :-(

A friend just let me know that these are by Joe Fafard - a wonderful artist from Saskatchewan. One of his cows can be found here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Hibiscus by susanvg
Hibiscus, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I have been seeing more hibiscus plants in gardens lately. I have only had indoor plants. These blooms are to be treasured as each one only lasts a day. These outdoor beauties were full of blooms. When I have had hibiscus in the house, the indoor environment did not foster a profusion of flowers. We would watch as the bud (yes - not buds) evolved and celebrate each bloom. If we were lucky it would flower on a weekend when we would be around more to admire it. Imagine our dismay if we went away for a couple of days and came back to find a dried up flower on the floor.

I guess flowers like this remind us to live in the moment, something I am trying cultivate. I guess I'm nurturing my inner garden.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wrought Iron

Wrought Iron by susanvg
Wrought Iron, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: June 2, 2012

I love to walk in different parts of Montreal. The architecture changes depending on the year the area was developed as well as the clientele it was developed for. Even that evolved over the years as neighbourhoods deteriorate over time and more recently have been gentrified.

Marching UP

In many parts of the city you can see these three floor buildings with flats on each floor. Outdoor staircases lead up to the second floor. Some  sweep up dramatically, while others march up in a straight line.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Parade of Perennials

Columbine Time by susanvg
Columbine Time, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
The early spring flowers have shown their last, followed now by the next set of blooms.

Bleeding Hearts

Even the bleeding hearts are slowly losing their lustre. Once profuse, fewer new blossoms appear. Each day, I venture out to inspect my garden, seeing new growth and awaiting the next flowers in the parade of perennials. Each new entry is greeted with delight.

Columbine Time

Columbines never fail to amaze me - their comet-like flowers streaking across my garden. I never know where they will pop up from year to year as they spread easily. This year they have arrived in profusion.

More delights are waiting their turn. The tall stalks of the tiger lilies are climbing each day and others whose names I never remember are taking their place. It's a slow parade - to be appreciated over months, but the beauty of each entry demands taking time to look, appreciate and just be in the moment.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Washing Vegetables

Washing Vegetables by susanvg
Washing Vegetables, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.

Photo: May 30, 2012

A trip to the market always results in unanticipated purchases. While looking for interesting mushrooms to cook with lamb shanks, my spouse's eyes lit up as he saw the chanterelles. A few came home with us (the price was astronomical). They were served along with an omelet. The huge portobello and small crimini mushrooms added flavour to the savoury lamb shanks.

One advantage of a cold spell - cooking warms the home and heart.